Week 11 of the NFL season brings us a critical matchup in the AFC South between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Indianapolis Colts. The game will kick off at 1:00 EST on Sunday, November 17 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Fans in local markets can watch the game on CBS.
According to the Week 11 NFL odds, the Colts are 3-point favorites at home. There is also an over/under of 43.5 points.
For the Jaguars, this week’s game marks the return of quarterback Nick Foles from a broken collarbone. Foles suffered the injury during the first half of Week 1 and is finally ready to return. Rookie Gardner Minshew did a great job filling in for Foles, leading the Jags to a 4-4 record in his eight starts. But after an abysmal game against the Texans before last week’s bye, there was little question about Jacksonville going back to Foles now that he’s healthy.
The Jags hope that Foles can work some of his late-season magic, as he’s done with the Eagles in recent years. Jacksonville is 4-5 and last in the AFC South. However, they are just two games out of first place, so their season is far from over. Jacksonville’s schedule the rest of the way is far from daunting. But the Jags need to make their move now, which won’t be easy with back-to-back road games coming off the bye.
Meanwhile, the Colts are also dealing with a quarterback injury, not to mention a two-game losing skid. Jacoby Brissett suffered a knee injury in a close loss to the Steelers two weeks ago and then sat out last week’s embarrassing loss to the Dolphins. The good news is that Brissett has been cleared to return this week.
The other piece of good news is that Indy is only a game behind the Texans in the AFC South despite back-to-back losses. The Colts are also about to embark on a stretch of three straight games against their division rivals, including a Thursday showdown with Houston. It’s vital that the Colts snap out of their funk this week; otherwise, their season could spiral out of control.
This will be the first of two games this season between the Colts and Jaguars. They split the two meetings last year with the home team winning each game. However, the Jags have won five of the last seven head-to-head meetings with the Colts overall, including a series sweep in 2017.
Even with Brissett ready to return, it’s hard not to be a little concerned about the Colts right now. They should have been able to beat the Dolphins last week with backup Brian Hoyer playing. That had to be a big hit to their confidence. Now they have to face a team that’s had an extra week to prepare and is desperate for a win. If nothing else, the Jaguars should be able to force a low-scoring game that should help them at least beat the 3-point spread.
Needless to say, Foles is the biggest X-factor in this game. There’s no way of knowing how sharp he’ll be after sitting out half the season. However, the Jacksonville offense was functional in his absence, as Minshew was able to work with the team’s largely inexperienced group of receivers. The Jaguars also have a top-10 rushing attack behind Leonard Fournette, who should continue to be the focal point of the offense. Fournette is one reason why the Jaguars should be able to eat up the clock and make this a close, low-scoring game.
On the other side of the ball, Brissett may be back, but T.Y. Hilton is expected to miss another game. While the Colts have seen nice strides from Zach Pascal this season and have a pair of viable tight ends in Eric Ebron and Jack Doyle, missing Hilton is still a big deal. He’s able to draw extra attention from the defense and create opportunities for other players. Keep in mind that the Colts are 5-1 when Hilton has played and 0-3 in the games he’s missed.
The good news for the Colts is that they can usually lean on Marlon Mack and the running game. The Jacksonville defense, while solid overall, has struggled against the run at times this season. However, without Hilton has a downfield threat, it’ll be easier for the Jags to focus on stopping the run. Even Miami’s defense was able to keep Mack contained last week. If the Jaguars can do that, they have the kind of pass rush that can bother Brissett.
Finally, the struggles of Indianapolis kicker Adam Vinatieri have to be mentioned in a game that has a 3-point spread. Vinatieri has made just 14 of his 19 field goal attempts this season while also missing six of 20 extra points. That’s a lot of points to leave on the field, not to mention Vinatieri’s confidence could be down after missing a potential game-winner against the Steelers a couple of weeks ago.
Given Vinatieri’s problems and Indy’s lack of success when Hilton doesn’t play, it’s tough to swallow the points in this game. If Foles is profoundly rusty and struggles, that could change things. However, there are enough questions about the Colts that I feel good taking the Jaguars as road underdogs in this game.